WINNIPEG, Man. — Manitoba is proposing amendments to its Highway Traffic Act (HTA), which would ban text messaging and talking on handheld cell phones while driving, Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Ron Lemieux has announced.
“We all know how important it is to pay full attention while behind the wheel, and imposing such a law removes a major distraction, helping to ensure motorists focus their attention on what matters most – the road,” said Lemieux. “This legislation renews our government’s commitment to increasing safety on the province’s roads.”
The proposed amendment to the HTA also includes a ban on smoking in vehicles when children under the age of 16 are present.
“Second-hand smoke increases a child’s risk of developing a serious respiratory illness,” said Healthy Living Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross. “This new legislation will help protect Manitoba children from exposure to the harmful effects of second-hand tobacco smoke.”
As for cell phone restrictions, Olson noted the MMA conducted a survey in May 2007 and found that 75% of Manitobans supported a ban on cell phone use while driving.
The Ministry reports that Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Quebec have comparable bans on handheld cell phones. Ontario has also recently introduced legislated proposals banning the use of handheld cell phones while driving. Several jurisdictions have introduced prohibitions on smoking in vehicles with children present, including British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and the Yukon.
However, Manitoba’s proposed legislation would allow for the use of hands-free communication devices, according to the Ministry.
Lemieux stated that an extensive public education campaign will be rolled out to inform the public and give motorists access to the information they need, prior to the proposed amendments becoming law.
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